Let's talk about endorsement and brands

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by OmegaSlayer, Jun 10, 2016.

  1. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    First of all, this is NOT a thread about who deserves endorsements or not.
    And it's not even a thread about how to get endorsed.

    I thought about this when this morning I read about the new Bill Kelliher signature from ESP/LTD.
    Long story short...long time Gibson dude leaves Gibson endorsement and goes to ESP.
    Now, it's not anything new that a guitar player changes ship, totally fair, totally good for them.

    Still I wonder how some brands easily "lose" their endorsers.

    As far as big player goes, from the top of my mind...
    -Jackson lost Marty Friedman (went to Ibanez, then PRS, then seemingly Jackson again), Dave Mustaine (to Dean), Alexi Laiho (to ESP)

    -Ibanez lost Alex Skolnick (to Heritage then ESP), John Petrucci (to EBMM), Frank Gambale (to Yamaha iirc), Vinnie Moore (to Dean), Reb Beach (to Suhr), Chris Broderick (to Ibanez), Ihsahn (to Aristides), Reyes (to ESP)
    -ESP lost Kiko Loureiro to Ibanez (previously he was with Washburn and Tagima)
    -Suhr lost Guthrie Govan to Charvel

    At the same time some relations seems to go on from forever like Gilbert/Vai/Satriani with Ibanez, Nuno Bettencourt with Washburn, George Lynch with ESP, Slash with Gibson, Malmsteen with Fender

    As you can see I mentioned people that are both great players and have a certain amount of "starpower" in the guitarists fanbase.
    Except for Kiko, there's this kind of trend of guitarists that find a good home with ESP. Or Schecter lately.

    That leads me to think that some brands are less willing to work with the endorsers.
    In some cases like Ibanez (but it's not the only brand), some of the artists gets signature LACS, which have unique specs, but those instruments, which are often slight modification of market designs, remain unique pieces, still there are millions of numbers RGs.

    ESP instead seems to release on the market sigs for every player, giving me the impression that every endorser DO REALLY MATTER.

    I still find incredible how Ibanez could lose a first class player like Petrucci, as his starpower and influence is so big that financially it would totally make sense to invest in R&D for him and release his spec'ed instrument, as the monstrous amount of sold Sterling and EBMM of his sig testimony.

    So what do you guys think?
    In SS.org there are people that have been in the business, endorsed guitarists, common guitarists...I'd like to listen to what you have to say about this stuff.
     
  2. Mprinsje

    Mprinsje st. anger ain't bad!

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    well, people's tastes change over the years, when you're in your 20's you might like super thin ibanez necks, only to find that when you're 40 you want thicker necks and a les paul shape.

    I do think most of the changes are because they can just get better deals with other companies. Bill Kelliher for example is able to design his own guitar (according to the mastodon FB at least) so i see why he would switch from a company that, while a huge name in the guitar business, only puts out limited runs of his sigs at pretty high prices, to a guitar company that will mass produce his sigs. Same idea was with the guys of Unearth, they played ibanez for years and had some customs but ibanez never wanted to make a signature series, then ESP came along and let them do all kinds of cool things.

    I'd imagine the same thing would go for Petrucci, his ibanez sigs were basically just modified RG's, but with EBMM he designed a guitar from the ground up. I've also read (on this forum a couple of times) that ibanez are not really willing to give people signature series or let them design their own guitar.
     
  3. TheTrooper

    TheTrooper SS.org Regular

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    JP left Ibanez because his contract was over and wanted to change; Ibanez didn't want to make a production JPM 7 model while EBMM wanted and did. (there's a series of video from a clinic of 2000 were he talks about that).

    He always said good stuff about Ibanez even after he left, in fact he still has some of the early prototypes; the split was amicable without drama (except from the stupid fans, but that's another story)
     
  4. SDMFVan

    SDMFVan SS.org Regular

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    $$$$$$$
     
  5. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    I find whatever you say interesting and reasonable.
    Not nitpicking it because I don't agree with what you say, but just to dig deeper into the discussion.

    I'll use some brands, shapes and player just as examples, and obviously they're just the first that come to mind for the sake of discussion.

    Paul Gilbert in Ibanez could go from a quite basic RG (the good old PGM) to a reverse Iceman (the Fireman), which is a "new design" and different in specs, as the Fireman seems to have a beefier neck and not the Wizard.
    If we think about manufacturing, the Fireman (PGM900 iirc) is..."less easy" to assemble than a basic RG that you have to paint with f holes and put the right pick ups in, as Ibanez have like a Gozillion RG bodies of the right wood around, while the Fireman shape is only for one model.
    Yet...Paul Gilbert was allowed to design his guitar.
    Staying with Ibanez, if one of your "modified RG" players wants a "modified ARZ", what should be the matter?
    By now, every brand has overlapping guitar shapes, especially for the more classic shapes take Les Paul, Arz, Monarkh, Eclipse for example.
    So why don't they try to get the endorser happy?
    I would understand not following the average Joe White's wish, but some players are indeed cash cows.
    I see ESP literally "stealin'" (I mean in a good way) people from other brands because they listen, they're not scared to experiment.

    Design a guitar under Ibanez didn't work for John Petrucci though, he wasn't allowed to design his guitar.
    EBMM allowed him to design his guitar, and...while I'm not EBMM book-keeper, it looks to me that their decision paid off BIG time as, despite being a very expensive instrument, loads of people desire a JP model or a Majesty, be it a Sterling or an EBMM.
    Again, I wonder how much sense does it make financially to lose the support of one of your top players, a player whose JPMs are still sought after like relics almost 20 years.

    The Bill Kelliher case is spot on, he moved for "artistic reasons", still we all know how incredibly conservative Gibson and Fender are...after how many years in the business the first Gibson and Fender sigs were released?
    I'd almost leave them out of the endorsement discussion.
    The Unearth guys maybe were too small (without lack of respect for you guys) for Ibanez, but what I found incredible is that probably, looking at the latest Ken Susi sig...it's a 7 string RG with Evertune, Fishmen Fluence and a silver pickguard, and the Buzz McGrath is a 7 string RGA with Fishman Fluence.
    Let's put the McGrath away, as the RGA seems to be an unsuccesful shape, but...in between all the numbered RG 7120, 8942, 6528 and an amount of numbers a customer can't understand...the Ken Susi could have been easily been an Ibanez sig...a nicely spec'ed RG with a sig name that is way easier to remember, something like Ibanez KS-1000 instead of RG 6577 WSBDFYHMESilver Pickguard (because Ibanez names are going out of reasonability)
    So yeah, Ken Susi might have been a niche player (again, please take no offense), but his instrument overlaps for like 70% with models that are already on the market.
    At this point I start to think that some of the endorsment problem are strategic to some partnerships, like almost all the Ibanez with DiMarzio and custom (gotoh) hardware and all the Jackson with Seymour Duncan.
    But again, does digging your head in a partnership and avoid some brands works well financially? Especially with so many products out there?
    Ibanez lately started to work with BKP and Lundgren in some rare cases, but while I understand that they don't want to use some other hardware designs (mostly bridges) they lose a big share of market.
    I might understand not using Floyd Rose bridges, but the Evertune (or the Hannes) for example is a peculiar bridge that doesn't stand as a competitor in the market, and brands should rather ally with whoever is not competitor, despite "alliances"
     
  6. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, not here for the drama, just to analyze stuff.
    I'd say that 16 years later we can pretty much say that Ibanez decision's was wrong.
    I can't get my head around that...we won't make a 7 that makes sense spec wise for guy x, but we'll make a 30 inches 8 string guitar with one pick-up for $ 5000.

    So yeah, as I'm a curious guy, I want to understand if being an endorsement and an eventual sig, there's intuition, foresight (or lack of it), "politics", strategical partnerships, or whatever.

    Yesterday I saw a vid of a guy unboxing what it seemed to be his new sig from a growing brand and I was surprised that the manufacturer guy showing the guitar to the player had to explain which model of Floyd Rose the guitar was equipped with and what was the feature of that model...that somehow leads me to think that manufacturers picks up a guy for his name/fame and slap a guitar on his neck because the dude can't even guess what he wants.
    I was surprised because I wouldn't release (and promote!) on the youtube channel of the brand a guy that is ignorant about what he's going to hold in his hands; as a customer I wouldn't feel like I would made a solid, safe and sound purchase.

    Mind you, I own mostly Ibanez, but I'm brand agnostic, for me a good guitar is a good guitar, brand doesn't matter.
     
  7. CaptainD00M

    CaptainD00M Lungsman

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    Okay I would qualify this only as thinking out loud here Omega, because I don't know either:

    Do you think it might have had something to do with the fact that in the early 2000 other than to mostly Nu-Metal guys the 7 String wasn't a huge seller?

    I mean I couldn't have seen a early 00's Nu-Metal band rocking something with the JP graphics on it tbh. And the whole 8 String thing for Meshugga is a little different right, because they had LACS that were only theirs and not production models till relatively recently when there was a market for them.

    I'm just throwing this out as a possible motivation factor for IBZ to say no sorry we won't do that because we don't think it will sell. Yeah it didn't work out really, but hey I think they still have done pretty well with everyone else they have.
     
  8. 13la13la

    13la13la Amateur Idiot Contributor

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    I was always under the impression that being endorsed is simply a business decision E.g. Sponsoring, signature line and possibly exclusivity?

    Concerning social media I think some companies still look at PR like they did when dinosaurs were alive, with the outdated thought that: "any PR is good PR". They think that any video showing your product in a semi-decent way would create product/brand exposure to the audience and therefore result in sales. That concept on its own is a bit cringeworthy though..
     
  9. Tyler

    Tyler SS.org Regular

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    I think people just take whatever they can get without thinking often times. With my old band I almost got endorsed by EBMM until I quit for personal reasons. With my new band, I was approached by a company that I had never heard of and that had a decent roster, but ended upturning them down because I did not want to settle for any company that wanted to endorse us. I want to wait until the time is right so I can get a deal with a company I feel comfortable with, and know I wont get burned on the quality of the instrument.

    A misconception is that people think it means free guitars, when in reality it means you get them probably at cost, or just for a much more discounted price than normal, and have the ability to more customization.
     
  10. CaptainD00M

    CaptainD00M Lungsman

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    Yeah, I really don't get how now a days people still have that misconception. There is so much information now about how people have gotten and go about getting endorsement that is readily accessible.

    The only time you get stuff for free is with Sig models and even then it depends on your contract and how you negotiate it with the company you have a sig with. Congrats on getting two offers of Endorsement btw man, thats very cool.

    Considering I finally found my home with Gibson's I'm not holding my breath about getting endorsed XD I'm better off building high quality gibson replica kits (which I plan to do) than wait for them to let me have guitars at cost.

    [EDIT]

    This is me at +/- 30 :D

    I think Bill Steer from Carcass too IIRC
     
  11. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, we're just friendly sharing opinion.
    As far as sig goes I think it's the good ol' chicken and egg argument.
    What was first, egg or chicken?
    Do manufacturers make sigs to promote a certain spec'ed guitar, or do people buy those guitars because they are related to their idol?
    As a big fan of Kiko, I would buy his ESP but not his Ibanez (would buy both and even a Tagima if I would drown in money), as a guitarist I'd rather buy an ESP Reyes than an Ibanez Tosin Abasi.
    The whole Nu-Metal stuff...I don't want to enter that territory...but At The Gates and mostly Carcass had been playing guitars tuned like 7 strings without an high E for ages...the need to play 7 strings in Nu-Metal was just a fad led by a bit of...lack of knowledge.
    People didn't really need a 7 to play Nu-Metal.
    I honestly think that Petrucci had been the guy that really turned the spotlight on the use of the 7 strings.
    Here in Italy (so perceptions in other parts of the World might have been very different), when I was 20 in the early 2000, Vai was the string funambulist, and the nu-metal guys were considered just a split hair above punk guitarists.
    Vai was alien, but Petrucci (we can argue that he's most skilled than Vai, but it's not the point, let's say that they're on par)...Petrucci was the guy a guitarist would have looked at and said...with effort and sweat I CAN do it.
    Other than that...living in Italy I think I saw the first 7 string guitar in 2002 I believe, it was the JEM with the Vai Eye hologram.

    Endorsing someone IS INDEED a business decision.
    And guitar manufacturers don't do charities.
    So, their main purpose is to make money...but to make money you need to hit all the bullet points, good and possibly technologically advanced products, fair prices, good marketing, popular faces to promote your products.
     
  12. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, you're correct but we're not talking about this.
    We're just talking about what happens behind the curtains of the endorsement and deals with guitars manufacturing.
     
  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    This is a very big topic.

    To focus on the JP Ibanez to EBMM move, I think it made perfect sense at the time.

    Dream Theater has never been really mainstream, but, put yourself back in the time when that decision was made. Falling into Infinity had come out, JP was relying more on 7s, but moreso, DT, as a band, had made their appeal to go more mainstream, and it didn't work - I mean, I love Falling Into Infinity, but it was perceived as failing to do what it set out to do. Also, DT had lost their keyboard player. 7s, in general, were faltering very badly. I don't know if you guys were in the seven string realm at that time, but you had the UV's in the 90's, then, in the late 90's, the market was flooded with Ibanez RG7's, Squier Stagemaster 7's, Danelectro Hodad 7's, Schecter Avenger 7's, Dean Avalanche 7's, Fernandez Revolver 7's, Washburn WG587's, DeArmond 7's, Epiphone LP7's, Conklin's import cheapie 7's, Samick made a 7, BC Rich, etc., I mean every manufacturer made a cheap seven string all at once. By the early 2000's, no one wanted to make a seven string, because there were way more instruments than the market would support. (On a side note, I was in heaven when I could run through all of the guitar shops in town and grab up all of their seven strings on clearance)...

    So Ibanez thought, here's this tremendously talented player in this tremendously talented band, that happens to be not doing so hot (no one knows what a lull in sales looks like until it's over, you know), this guy wants a seven string guitar, but those things are harder to sell than ice water at the north pole, ... EBMM, at the time, had a lot of lesser-known artists, and had no qualms taking on JP. The new guitar gave DT more reason to develop a new sound, which turned into Metropolis Pt II

    At this time, Meshuggah didn't have Ibanez 8's. I think they weren't even using 8's at all, but if they were or were developing them at that time, it would have been with Nordstrom. I recall interviews from the early days of them playing 8's that they had a lot of issues with them early on, so I don't know how long the process took to convert.

    Other players, in general, get dumped or dump their endorsees due to any number of business or personal reasons. In some cases, a guitarist might have allegedly slept with a manufacturer's CEO's wife, ending a well-known endorsement. In most cases, though, business terms are just not as desirable as potential new ventures. No vows nor oaths are taken.
     
  14. neurosis

    neurosis SS.org Regular

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    I think in general endorsees move because they have a certain need their current endorsement does´t satisfy. In some cases it´s having a specific guitar and in others it´s also the possibility of receiving compensation for a potential production line of such guitar.

    With Ibanez there´s plenty of example of dudes having endorsement but not signature models. They get access to the LACS, which I think is actually only possible for endorsees. With ESP they work on a signature release that is commonly divided in the three or four price points the company offers (Signature ESP, Deluxe LTD 600?, lower tier LTD 400, cheapest LTD200... something like that).

    I think having the exclusive access to a historic workshop like Ibanez´s would be the more appealing deal in terms of prestige (no pun intended... hahaah). You get access to a world-reknown shop that will make you whatever awesome spec you can think of. Nobody will ever have the same guitar.

    With ESP you just get a small share in the production I guess.

    I have a suspicion that with Kelliher, with Mastodon being at the level they are, it has been a similar affair as with Metallica. It would´t surprise me to see him play his Gibsons alongside the ESP. The new model isn´t far from regular Les Paul specs anyway. He probably just got the offer and made a wise decision to partner up to produce and promote his own line of instruments, which depending on success will be around for a loooooong time as opposed to the limited runs Gibson agreed to do for him.
     
  15. OmegaSlayer

    OmegaSlayer SS.org Regular

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    This is interesting...in Italy we didn't even know about Schecters until 2005 I think :lol:
    And I'll google about the guy who's slept with the manufacturer's CEO wife :lol:

    Ok, that's very interesting to shift the focus to the endorser on a more subtle way than "he changed his guitar tastes", but more on the technical and marketing side.
    At this point I try to re-word the question as "why didn't brand x tried to go a bit of length to keep the artist?"
    For Gibson, Kelliher surely is not big, not as Iommi, Angus, Slash...still Mastodon are growing with steadily and with good support from a big record label.
    But for others?
    Do you think manufacturers have endorsement artists that they would never allow to lose?
     
  16. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure you have heard of him, in fact I'm pretty sure he's one of the most name-recognized players ever. :lol:

    Funny thing is that I believe Slash's guitars are mostly copies, as opposed to actual Gibsons, but I could be mistaken.

    I don't think any business has any endorsement they would never be willing to lose under any circumstances. It's not much different than who is on the box of Wheaties cereal. I don't know how much things have changed, but, in the 80's and 90's, people often times endorsed a brand, then had a luthier ghost-build them a guitar that resembled a certain brand.

    I mean, if I built guitars, I would definitely want someone famous to play my guitars. If, say, Billy Joe from Green Day accepted an offer to play only Bostjan Guitars, I'd expect a huge bump in business. If, say, Billy Joe said in an interview that his Bostjan Guitar was a piece of .... and he couldn't wait for his contract to be over, so he could go back to playing his beat up old blue strat, I'd probably have to drop the endorsement. Whether or not I like Green Day or whatever, at that level, really has little to do with the business side of things. I think everyone will be at least somewhat guided by personal preferences, but ultimately, business is business.
     
  17. Ebony

    Ebony Signal purist

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    For many guitarists today, I think the main attraction of endorsements is that you bypass waiting lists and hollow promises.

    Alot of the boutique makers today doesn't actually sell anything, they just post pictures of flashy guitars and informs the public of which instagram-famous player it is going to.

    Take me for example. In 2012 I was on the newly etablished waitlist for a strandberg, unendorsed offcourse. In 2015 I was number 75. As of May this year I am number 553.
    And this happens while every endorsee gets a couple of new ones almost on a yearly basis.

    Now, I fully understand the marketing aspect of it, but to claim that you're in business with this kind of practice is just wrong.

    I assume this applies in even greater effect to the big companies with their big endorsees, where the need for a million guitars per superstar is accepted as canon.

    The feeling of being down-prioritized is not something that inspires devotion, and I imagine the average famous player will feel like this after a few months/weeks/hours of delayed signature models, touring service, magazine covers or new guitars.
     
  18. chickenxnuggetz91

    chickenxnuggetz91 What kind of sauce?

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    I love all sorts of guitars. I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. Personally, I would go with whatever brand is willing to work with me and give me the best deal. Now, if they are unwilling to slightly change a design that hinders my playing or effects my health, then I will move on to the next best thing.

    Businesses choose who they want based on what they think that artist will bring in for them. The artist chooses who they want to work with, but ultimately the company has the final say.

    Old example: Believe it or not, Zacky Vengeance from A7X got his schecter deal a good while before Synyster Gates. The reason being is because at the time, Syn was being flaky about staying in the group. Zacky was the stable member. It would have done Schecter no good to pay and give gear to a member who was willing to fade into obscurity.
     
  19. Hachetjoel

    Hachetjoel Ibanez whore Contributor

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    spill. :squint:
     
  20. TheTrooper

    TheTrooper SS.org Regular

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    Absolutely.
    I was acually going to write that about Falling Into Infinity and the fact that DT weren't mainstream, but You beat me to it :lol:
     

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